Oklahoma at Iowa State

The Sports Xchange

September 12, 2018 at 5:13 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Midamerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa
TV: ABC/ESPN2
SERIES: Oklahoma leads, 74-6-2
RANKINGS: Oklahoma No. 5

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sooners

–WR CeeDee Lamb, a sophomore, is coming off what he said was the best game of his career, with seven catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in the win over UCLA. But despite all of that production, the talk Monday continued to be on Lamb’s one-handed leaping catch along the sidelines that wound up being incomplete but showed off his freakish athletic ability.

–C Creed Humphrey had a rough beginning to his first career start, being called for a penalty on the game’s first play. But Monday, coach Lincoln Riley said Humphrey played better and better as the game went on. Humphrey came off the bench in the season opener after senior Jonathan Alvarez played the first two series before Humphrey replaced him and earned the start.

–LB Kenneth Murray was held without a tackle in the season opener but showed off his playmaking ability last week with nine tackles. Murray showing improvement figured to be big for Oklahoma’s defense, as he settles in as one of the leaders on what has shown so far to be an improved group.

“He’s so twitchy and fast and explosive, it’s almost like a quarterback with a big arm, he’s learning when to use it,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “Then when to kind of be patient and let the plays develop, then trigger. He was really good with that the other day. … I think Saturday was glimpse of what we could have with him in the future.”

Cyclones

–QB Zeb Noland is the best bet to get most of the playing time if Kyle Kempt is out with his injured knee. He’s not quite as untested as Kempt was a year ago, but it’s close. How he responds will determine whether Iowa State has a realistic chance at a second consecutive upset of the Sooners.

–OL Julian Good-Jones started at center against Iowa, but he may be moved back to left tackle this week. The Cyclones with a veteran offensive line in the opener but struggled to win at the line of scrimmage. Because of that, it’s likely that Good-Jones will see more time at the more pivotal left tackle slot and insert Colin Newell into the lineup at center.

–LB Mike Rose didn’t look or play like a freshman against Iowa, leading the team with 11 tackles in his debut. Oklahoma’s offense is a sterner test, but the Cyclones defense was strong against the Hawkeyes and the success of Rose only adds to the team’s capabilities.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

A year ago, when Iowa State visited Oklahoma, the Cyclones had questions at quarterback.

Jacob Park left the team in the days before that game and it wasn’t clear who would start between Zeb Noland and Kyle Kempt.

Kempt ultimately started and led Iowa State to a 38-31 upset over the then-No. 3 Sooners.

Last week against Iowa, Kempt went down with a knee injury that looked serious at the time, but Cyclones coach Matt Campbell said this week that the outlook was optimistic for Kempt.

“I see this not being a long-term injury,” Campbell said Tuesday. “I think we really dodged a bullet there.”

But that doesn’t mean Kempt will be available Saturday when the No. 5 Sooners travel to Ames, Iowa.

He remains questionable, with Noland the likely starter if Kempt can’t go.

“I’ve got the jitters out,” Noland said. “I just have to be ready.”

For Oklahoma, it’s the third consecutive week where they’ll prepare for an unknown at quarterback.

Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin kept his decision on a starter close to the vest before going with Chris Robison in the opener. Then last week, UCLA’s Wilton Speight was questionable after an injury and the starter wound up being freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

“That’s kinda been the theme this year, so really nothing new there,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “They do some very good things schematically to put you in a bind.”

Oklahoma is dealing with an injury issue of its own, but there’s no doubt about the availability of Rodney Anderson. The Sooners’ star running back suffered a knee injury on the final play of the first quarter in last week’s win over UCLA and will miss the rest of the season.

In his place, Oklahoma will use a committee approach at the position, leaning especially on sophomore Trey Sermon and senior Marcelias Sutton, with some help likely from freshman T.J. Pledger as well.

“Rod was a big impact on the team,” Sutton said. “Physically and mentally, he keeps everything straight, especially in the running backs room. Losing him was hard on us right now. At the end of the day, we’re just going to keep pushing and moving forward.”

But Campbell said Oklahoma’s offense is still plenty potent — which was evident last week when the Sooners scored 35 of their 49 points after Anderson’s departure.

That punch includes quarterback Kyler Murray, who replaced Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield this season and through two games has thrown for 515 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. He’s also rushed for 92 yards and two scores.

“His ability to make things happen when it all breaks down … it’s almost as if they just picked up where they left off,” Campbell said. “He has all those intangibles. He’s not just a runner. He’s not just a thrower. He can do it all at a high level.”

The Sooners insisted this week that last year’s loss didn’t play into preparation for this game at all.

“Nothing special about this game,” Sooners guard Ben Powers said.

Several other Oklahoma players echoed that sentiment.

But in addition to marking a chance to avenge their last regular-season loss, the game also marks the beginning of the Sooners’ quest to win a fourth consecutive Big 12 title.

“It’s the tradition here at Oklahoma,” Sermon said.

Whichever quarterback starts, a big key for the Cyclones as they look to pull off their first win over the Sooners in Ames since 1960 figures to be running back David Montgomery, who rushed for just 44 yards a week ago against Iowa. Montgomery had 144 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma a year ago.

“It usually takes a couple guys to bring him down,” Oklahoma middle linebacker Kenneth Murray said. “He runs hard. … He can get in and out of his cuts and stuff like that. He also has power. It’s gonna be exciting to get out there and go against them.”

 

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SCARBROUGH'S TAKE

College Fans, Beware The Man in the Bottle.